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Re-careering: What Are My Transferable Skills?

Where did my career go?

During the past year or so, the economy has taken a toll on occupations that used to employ large numbers of age 50+ people. Some industrial sectors may come back in time, while others may not experience a significant recovery during our working lifetimes.

Even if you haven’t lost your job, there is the possibility that you’ll have to look for a new occupation before you retire—if you’re ever able to retire. You may have a lifetime of excellent work experience in an industry or occupation that no longer exists or offers few opportunities for employment. If you’re in this situation, it’s time to take inventory of something of immense value to you and potential employers: your transferable skills, capabilities, and knowledge.

Transferable Skills: Your Ticket to a New Job
If you’ve spent a lifetime on one career path, it can be difficult to recognize the skills, capabilities, and knowledge you’ve gathered along the way. The first step in launching your job search is to identify your most valuable transferable skills. Sometimes you’re so wrapped up in your job that you’ve lost sight of what your transferable skills are.

You may also feel that your experience and skills aren’t valuable any longer. If you think so, it’s time to think outside of your career box and take inventory of your transferable skills and employment options.

Let’s look at a number of industries and the most valuable skills needed in each of these fields:

Retail – On the surface, working in retail as a stockkeeper, cashier, or supervisor seem very simple and not like occupations that yield valuable skills. Think again. Working in retail requires effective interpersonal and communication skills; customer service and problem-solving skills; planning and organizational abilities; computer skills; math and analytical abilities; creative talent for displays and product presentation; and solid selling ability. Your supervisory skills are transferable to any number of jobs. You may also have developed extensive knowledge about specific products, such as home furnishings, and that information may be applicable in another occupation, such as home decorator. Keep in mind that retailers will begin hiring at the early phase of an economic recovery.

General Manufacturing – At first glance, working in a manufacturing plant may not appear to yield a variety of transferable skills. But even looking at the work from an outsider’s view, you’ll see that industrial jobs give you many transferable talents, including quality monitoring and evaluation; computer skills; the ability to read and analyze production orders and specifications; time-management and organizational skills; technical trade and skilled-labor abilities; teamwork; and product-specific knowledge. Technical, trades, and other specialized manufacturing jobs yield equipment-maintenance, production-planning, and supervisory skills. till, the permanent decline in the number of manufacturing jobs resulting from the shrinkage of entire industries, such as the auto sector, is cause for concern. If your skills are highly specific to one product or industry, you may need extensive training in a new trade or occupation.

Construction – When the mortgage and credit markets collapsed, residential and construction jobs disappeared almost immediately. The Federal government goal is for public spending on infrastructure and “green” projects to absorb many workers previously employed in construction. Yet a career in construction still yields transferable skills that may lead to new occupations, including computer skills; purchasing and materials management; project costing and planning; drafting; computer-aided design; and transportation and logistics. People involved with unskilled construction jobs or manual labor will have the fewest transferable skills.

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